Outside the LP presidential candidate, Bob Barr, and all the internal and external controversies surrounding him, the most prominent Libertarian Party candidates for major statewide offices appear to be people like Michael Munger (NC), Allen Buckley (GA), and Stan Jones (MT). (I've been covering Munger and Buckley here for some time; I'll be picking up Jones in the near future.)
Using Dr. Munger as a case study, I'd like to explain why the Libertarian Party is an abject failure as a national political party at this point in its history.
Dr. Munger is the Chair of the Political Science Department at Duke University, so he can hardly be dismissed as a wacko. He was one of the driving spirits behind the North Carolina Libertarians' successful campaign for ballot access this year. He gave one of the two keynote addresses at the Libertarian National Convention. In the May polls for the NC Governor's race, he showed up at 4%, with his performance in large measure responsible for Bob Barr polling at 6% in the same poll. He has been covered by major newspapers throughout the state, has appeared on numerous radio shows, and recently has made a big splash in the controversy over his exclusion from the upcoming series of NC Gubernatorial debates.
He is, by all rights, an important rising Libertarian candidate.
It's therefore hardly surprising that the mainstream media, with its vested interest in the status quo, has ignored Munger. After his 4% showing in an early May poll, the major polling organizations have rewarded him for showing up by erasing his existence in their poll questions. Real Clear Politics and Rasmussen both now refuse to include Munger in their poll questions, and are back to reporting a purely two-person race between Perdue and McCrory deadlocked at 47%-46%. By my math that leaves 7% either uncommitted or voting for Munger, and that 7% is obviously critical to the balance of power.
What is both surprising and appalling, however, is the fact that the Libertarian blogosphere has virtually blacked out Dr Munger's campaign as well.
The National Libertarian Party website has a candidate bio of Munger and a Candidate Tracker Rating, but doesn't cover him or other state candidates on any regular basis.
Nolan Chart ran a June 2 LP convention wrap-up post that mentioned Munger in his role pushing for LP ballot access in NC; that's all I could find.
Independent Political Report last covered Munger's campaign on June 2, when it announced his poll numbers as reaching 4%.
Last Free Voice covered Munger most recently on May 5, with a story about the LPNC lawsuit over ballot access.
Third Party Watch has done somewhat better, with posts on June 12 (debate exclusion), June 2 (polling at 4%), and May 29 (keynote address at LP convention).
Crazy for Liberty deserves props for its June 17 reprinting of a major NC newspaper story regarding the Munger debate controversy; before that it most recently covered Munger on April 13 (nomination).
Few if any of these sites link to Dr Munger's campaign blog, provide the audio files of his keynote address or radio broadcasts, or take notice of his repeated mentions in NC newspapers.
Why? That's the $24,000-question, isn't it?
Are Libertarians so tied up in rhetorical tail-chasing that they can't pay attention to the actual nuts and bolts of getting our candidates elected? Would Libertarians rather engage in internet masturbation over the Boston Tea Party's online nominating process (and all the inherent fraud it generated) or name-calling over Bob Barr's status as a Libertarian than in supporting actual Libertarian candidates for office?
So it seems.
Here, with our modest readership, we managed to gin up several dozen inquiries regarding Dr Munger's exclusion from the NC Bar Association-sponsored debate, which in turn (and with the messages generated inside North Carolina) actually managed to provoke a bizarre response from NCBA Executive Director Allan Head.
Imagine what might have happened if hundreds, maybe thousands of Libertarian had made their voices heard, from all around the country?
At the very least we'd have stirred up some more publicity for Dr Munger; we might even have managed to shoe-horn him into one of the latter debates.
But for that to happen, the Libertarian blogosphere actually has to pay attention to our damn candidates.
That, it appears, is too much to ask.